Page images
PDF
EPUB

and in perfect Eafe, Health and Vigour of Mind to feed upon a Happiness that is as large as our Capacities, and as lafting as our Beings. Is this a Reward of that inconfiderable nature, that we fhould think much to labour and contend for it; is not the Hope of being fatisfied for ever, a fufficient Encouragement to induce us to deny our Lufts and Appetites a few Moments, or is there not good enough in an everlafting Reft, to countervail a few Days and Years Labour and Contention? What though you pant and labour now while you are climbing the everlafting Hills, God be praised 'tis not fo far to the Top but that the pleasant Gales and glorious Profpects you fhall everlastingly enjoy there, will fo abundantly compensate for the Difficulty of the Afcent, as that instead of complaining of it you will to eternal Ages reflect upon it with Pleafure and delight. Wherefore when your Courage begins to fhrink at the Difficulty of Warfare, do but lift up your Eyes to the Recompence of Reward, and to be fure, if you have any Heart, that will infpire you with fuch a bravė Refolution, as nothing will be too hard for but what is abfolutely impoffible. For how can we be disheartened at any fuperable Difficulty, fo long as we are animated with this perfuafion, that if we have our Fruit unto holines, our end shall be everlafting Life?

your

SECT,

SECT. V.

Concerning thofe Duties which appertain to the Perfection and Confummation of our Chriftian Warfare, fhewing what they are, and how effeEtually they conduce to the perfecting us in the Virtues of the Heavenly Life.

I proceed now to the Third and last Part of our Christian Warfare, viz. the Confummation of it, which is final Perfeverance. For after we have actually ingaged, and made fome Progreß in it, our next Care and Duty is that we do not relapfe and bafely retreat from what we have fo profperously undertaken, and hitherto fo effectually profecuted, but that fo long as we live we perfift in an open Defiance to our Sins, and Endeavour to pursue and mortifie our Inclinations to them, and Perfevere in the Practice of all Vertue; ftill indeavouring thereby to improve and grow on to Perfection, that fo we may die as we have hitherto lived, and confummate our Warfare in a final Victory, and that when our Lord fhall come or fend his Herald, Death, to fummon us off from the Field, we may be found fighting under his Banner against Sin, the World, and the Devil, and finally die as we have lived, his faithful Seldiers and Followers. For this he indifpenfably exacts of us, viz. that we should be faithful unto Death, Rev. ii. 10. that we should patiently continue in well-doing, Rom. ii. 7. that we should indure to the end, Matt. x. 22. and hold the beginning of our confidence ftedfaft to the end, Heb. iii. 14. that we Should

Should keep his works to the end, and finally overcome as well as fight, Rev. ii. 26. In a word, that having fet our hands to the plough, we should not look back, Luke ix. 62. but that we should be always abounding in the work of the Lord, forafmuch as we know that our labour is not in vain in the Lord, 1 Cor. xv. 58. the fenfe of all which is, that we should not only begin this our Chriftian Warfare, and profecute it for a while, but that we should proceed and perfevere in it as long as we breath, and never lay down our Arms till we lay down our Lives. In order to which, as we must still persevere in the Practice of thofe Duties which appertain to the Courfe and Progreß of our Warfare, fo there are fundry other Duties which we must practise, and which have a more direct and Immediate Influence upon the final Success and Confummation of it. All which I fhall reduce to thefe following Particulars:

1. That while we ftand, we should not be overconfident of our felves, but ftill keep a jealous eye upon the Weakness and Inconftancy of our own

Natures.

2. That if at any time we wilfully fall and mifcarry, we should immediately arife again by Repentance.

3. That to prevent the like Falls and Mifcarriages for the future, we should indeavour to withdraw our Affections from the Temptations of the World, but more efpecially from those which were the Occafions of our Fall.

4. That we should more curiously fearch into the fmaller Defects and Indecencies of our Nature, in order to our reforming and correcting them.

5. That,

5. That, fo far as lawfully we can, we should live in a clofe Communion with the Church whereof we are Members.

6. That we fhould not out of a fond Opinion that we are good enough already,ftint our progress in Religion to any determinate Degree or Measure of Goodness.

7. That we should frequently entertain our felves with the profpect of our Mortality, and endeavour to compofe our felves before-hand into a good Pofture of dying.

8. That in order thereunto, we should be wondrous careful to difcharge our Confciences of all the Reliques and Remains of our past Guilt.

9. That to compenfate for thefe, fo far as we are able, we should take care to Redeem the Time we have formerly spent in finful Courfes, by being doubly diligent in the Exercife of all the contrary Virtues, and the doing all the contrary Good we are able.

10. That we fhould labour after a Rational and well-grounded Affurance of Heaven.

I. To the Perfection and Confummation of our Christian Warfare it is neceffary that while we ftand we should not be over-confident of our felves, but ftill keep a jealous Eye upon the Weakneß and Inconftancy of our own Natures. For thus the Apostle declares it to be the Will of God, that we Should not trust in our felves, i. e. rely too much upon our own Strength and Ability, 2 Cor. i. 9. and elsewhere he admonishes, let him that thinks he ftands (or, the present being put for the future, as it is very frequently, let him that thinks he shall ftand) take heed left he fall, 1 Cor. x. 12. fo alfo,

Rom.xi.

Rom. xi. 20. Thou ftandeft by faith, be not highminded, but fear, i. e. it is thy Faith that upholds thee, but be not too fecure of thy Support, left /thou also fall and perish, as thy Brethren the Jews have done before thee. And hence we are bid to work out our falvation with fear and trembling, Phil. ii. 12. i. e. with a holy Solicitude and Fealoufie, left one time or other we should be tempted and overcome, and at the laft finally mifcarry. And indeed there is nothing doth more expofe men to the hazard of falling than too much Confidence in their own Strength. This makes them venture upon a thousand Temptations which they might have fairly, and much more prudently avoided; and hurries them hand over head into fuch inviting Occafions and Opportunities of finning, as do too often inveagle and betray them in defpight of all their good Refolutions to the contrary. Whereas had they but fufpected themselves, and not prefumed too much upon their own Stedfaftnefs, they would many a time have kept out of harmsway, and avoided the Snares that did intangle them; but by venturing, like Sampfon, to lay down their Heads in a Dalilahs Lap, in Confidence of the Strength of their own Refolution, they have been infenfibly inticed, after fome coy Refufals, to betray themselves into the Snare of the Devil.

And as through an over-weening Confidence of our own Strength we expofe our felves to many needlefs Temptations, fo we do alfo too often provoke God to withdraw his Grace and Affiftance from us, and to leave us to contend alone with thofe Temptations whereunto we do fo

confident

« PreviousContinue »